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Bunnings & Kmart Pull The Plug Temporarily On Instore Facial Recognition

Bunnings and Kmart the Wesfarmers owned retail stores have followed the lead of the Good Guys and pulled the plug on using facial recognition technology in their stores while an investigation by the AIC takes place.

The issue blew up after Choice accused the retailers of preying on customers despite management claiming that the technology was only used for security purposes.

Shortly after the story appeared Choice lobbied the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) who opened investigations into the personal information handling practices of retailers and the use of facial recognition technology despite the images being scrapped from publicly available social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Tik Tok and various other sites where consumers have made their personal information available.

Choice claimed the stated business purpose was disproportionate to the privacy harms posed to individuals despite the individuals openly flaunting public information for all to read and see on social media sites.

The JB Hi Fi owned Good Guys paused the use of facial recognition technology in its stores while the OAIC investigated, now Kmart has temporarily stopped the use of facial recognition technology.

A Kmart spokeswoman said that the technology was intended to prevent theft and the abuse of staff by customers.

“We believe our use of facial recognition technology for the limited purpose of preventing criminal activity such as refund fraud is appropriate, and its use is subject to strict controls. We do not use this technology to track customer behaviour or for marketing purposes,” the Kmart spokesperson said.

“We have temporarily stopped the use of this technology in our small number of trial stores given the commencement of the OAIC investigation.”

Despite some limited signage in some stores, customers remained largely unaware of the practice.

Choice have not commented to ChannelNews.



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